Celtic Jewelry Meaning and History

Celtic Jewelry Meanings

Celtic Jewelry Meaning

Prized by men and women alike, Celtic jewelry is a treasure among possessions because of it's uniqueness in beauty and symbolism.

Silver and gold were used by Celtic craftsmen between 2000 BC to around 550 AD silver to make outstanding jewelry. Celtic symbols were inevitably the subject of the Celtic jewelry craft, and evident in the final products as evident in modern-day examples.

Ornate, symbolic, and enchanting, Celtic jewelry was (and still is) highly coveted. In fact, Celtic jewelry such as rings, bracelets, pendants, and brooches were so sought after for their beauty and style that the trade of Celtic jewelry across the Mediterranean was quite successful.

The Celtic Cross

celtic cross meaning and symbolism

When one thinks of Celtic jewelry, the Celtic cross may come to mind first. The Celtic cross had it's start in the British Isles, appearing primarily in Ireland.

This Celtic symbol has long represented the bridge or passage between heaven and earth. The four arms may also be connotative of the four elements (fire / earth / air / water).

The ring in the center of the Celtic cross is a Celtic symbol of infinite love, specifically, the endlessness of God's love. The center ring may also represent a halo emanating from the Christ.

Given the power represented in this Celtic symbol, it's easy to see why Celtic craftsmen were so dedicated to the pristine perfection in crafting the Celtic cross.

This symbol represents the very highest ideals and aspirations of the Celts, and this piece of Celtic jewelry is one of the most timeless.

The Claddagh Meaning

Celtic Claddagh meaning

Another timeless piece of Celtic jewelry is the Claddagh ring.

Claddagh (pronounced klä d ä) is an ancient village just outside Galway City in Ireland.

The ring gets its origin from Richard Joyce. Captured and taken from his homeland, Joyce was held as a slave in the West Indies. Eventually, he was sold to a Moorish goldsmith, where Joyce learned the art of jewelry making. Joyce eventually gained his freedom, and upon doing so, immediately went back to his homeland and settled down in the village of Claddagh. Here he continued his goldsmith practice by making Celtic jewelry – specifically producing the Claddagh to celebrate his return home and to have a symbol for his love of kin and country. As seen today, the Claddagh has become quite popular as a sign of betrothal as well as friendship and love. Also see hand symbolism, including Celtic perspectives of hand meaning.

Claddagh Symbolism Celtic symbols are evident in the Claddagh as they are commonly seen in all jewelry. The heart of the Claddagh represents love, the crown is symbolic of loyalty, and the hands represent friendship. These symbol meanings make it easy to understand why the Claddagh is such a popular and appropriate choice for a wedding or friendship ring.

Claddagh Ring Position Traditionally, if the Claddagh ring is worn on the right hand with the crown facing the base of the finger ring-wearer is not in a serious relationship. Worn on the right hand with the crown facing away from the base of the finger indicates someone is in a serious relationship. According to some, if a Claddagh is worn on the left hand with the crown in either direction it means that that the wearer is married.

The Celtic Torc Meaning

Celtic Torc meaning

The torc is one of the most characteristic and showcased of Celtic adornments for the body.

Indeed, Cassius wrote how Boudicca went into battle wearing nothing but a great necklace of twisted gold (which was a torc worn snuggly around the neck).

Worn with or without clothes, the symbolism of the torc is weighted with power.

There are schools of thought that indicates torcs were symbols of:

  • Nobility
  • strength
  • Status
  • Hierachy within the clans

I've wondered if the balled ends of the torcs press against certain meridian points (around the neck where they are worn, as well as around ankles and wrists) that cause heightened awareness and arousal.

I rather like the C-shape connotationthe torc is symbolic of a stylized C-moon a crescent moon. In this case, we are dealing with a lunar principals dealing with:

  • Intuition
  • Metamorphosis
  • Emotion
  • Creation

If entertaining the crescent moon symbolism, we may recognize feminine energy. Further, we may also research the Celtic triple goddess concept in which the great feminine houses three aspects of the Divine: Maiden, Mother and Crone.

Each aspect of the divine feminine containing profound symbolism and wisdom to her own devices shown together with the symbolic triquetra her forces are unanimously intense (although, there are infinite number of power-triads upon which to draw).

Maybe this bit on the symbolic meaning of the Celtic torc may inspire you to design one for yourself. Or, purchase one from your local metalsmith for your beloved.

I hope you have enjoyed these symbolic observations about Celtic jewelry meanings. Check out the links at the end of this page for more Celtic related articles. Thanks for reading!

An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings

Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.

This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."

Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)

As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!


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